Mexico: indigenous protests in Oaxaca

About 25,000 members of the indigenous Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) marched in Oaxaca city in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca on March 18 to demand that the state government start talks on incidents of violence against the Triqui and others over the past two years. The protesters tied up traffic as they marched from the Monumento a La Madre along the Cerro del FortĂ­n highway to the city’s main plaza.

The incidents the protesters cited included the disappearance on July 5, 2007 of Triqui sisters Virginia and Daniela Ortiz Ramírez; 46 murders in the part of the state where the Triqui live; the disappearances of Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Cruz Sánchez, members of the rebel Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), in May 2007, and of Lauro Juárez, an indigenous Chatino who supported the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) , in December 2007; and the continued imprisonment of eight residents of San Agustín Loxicha by the federal government on charges of belonging to the EPR. State officials met with MULT leaders to discuss the cases. (La Jornada, March 19)

On March 20 about 150 residents of San José El Progreso and Magdalena Ocotlán in Oaxaca used rocks and cables to block the entrance to the Cuzcatlán mine, owned by the Canadian company Fortuna Silver Mines. The Coordinating Committee in Defense of the Natural Resources and Our Mother Earth of Ocotlán Valley organized the protest to demand that the federal Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat cancel the permit for the mine, which is not yet in operation. According to Agustín Ríos Cruz, a spokesperson for the group, local residents have suffered from the contamination of local rivers by metals like mercury and copper or chemicals like cyanide and arsenic; residents report that 20 farm animals have died. The company denies the charges. (LJ, March 21)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 22

See our last posts on Mexico, Oaxaca and the guerilla movement.